Twitter Is 'Toxic' And Failing Women, Amnesty International Report Claims

'Twitter is a space where women can too easily be confronted with death or rape threats'.

Twitter has been accused of failing to keep women safe from violence and abuse and allowing a “toxic” environment to flourish.

Amnesty International on Wednesday publishes a report detailling more than 80 interviews that it says exposes how the social media platform is “failing to respect women’s rights”.

The testimony from politicians, journalists, and other Twitter users across the UK and the US underlines the routine nature of death and rape threats and racist, transphobic and homophobic abuse, it suggests.

The report, #ToxicTwitter, comes on the day Twitter celebrates 12 years since the first tweet.

Meanwhile, a new Amnesty survey of more than 1,000 British women has revealed the lack of trust women have in Twitter’s ability to deal with the issue.

The findings show that only 9% of British women think Twitter is doing enough to stop violence and abuse against women.

Some 78% of British women who expressed an opinion don’t think Twitter is a place they can share their opinion without receiving violence or abuse, it says.

<strong>Amnesty International's UK director Kate Allen.</strong>
Amnesty International's UK director Kate Allen.
James Boardman / Reuters

Kate Allen, director of Amnesty International UK, said: “It’s clear that Twitter has become a toxic place for women.

“For far too long Twitter has been a space where women can too easily be confronted with death or rape threats, and where their genders, ethnicities and sexual orientations are under attack.

“Recently we’ve seen a great wave of solidarity and activism from women around the world, and social media platforms have an important role in movements like #MeToo. But women must be able to speak out without fear of violence and abuse.

“The trolls are currently winning, because despite repeated promises, Twitter is failing to do enough to stop them.

“Twitter must take concrete steps to address and prevent violence and abuse against women on its platform, otherwise its claim to be on women’s side is meaningless.”

US journalist Imani Gandy told Amnesty: “I get harassment as a woman and I get the extra harassment because of race and being a black woman.

“They will call white women a ‘c***’ and they’ll call me a ‘n***** c***’. Whatever identity they can pick, they will pick it and use it against you.

“Whatever slur they can come up with for a marginalised group – they use.”

Azmina Dhrodia, technology and human rights researcher at Amnesty, said: “Twitter has repeatedly tried to shift attention away from its own responsibilities by focusing on the wider issue of hatred and prejudice in society.

“We are not asking them to solve the world’s problems. We are asking them to make concrete changes that truly demonstrate that abuse against women is not welcome on Twitter.”

Miski Noor, a gender non-conforming communications strategist for the Black Lives Matter Global Network, said: “Twitter is going to have to say whether they’re for the people or they’re not.

“Twitter has the power to change the way women and femmes are experiencing abuse, or even if we experience abuse, on their platform.

“After all, they are the convenors of the space and they have the power to change our experiences.”

Amnesty International says Twitter has responded to the report by saying it disagreed with the findings.

Amnesty International says the company said in a statement that it “cannot delete hatred and prejudice from society”, and explained it had made more than 30 changes to its platform in the past 16 months to improve safety, including increasing the instances of action it takes on abusive tweets.